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PFT's Week Two picks

[Editor’s note:  Each week, Rosenthal and I will go head to head,
picking the winner of each game.  The guy who does worse each week gets
to be the one to copy and paste together the text the next week.  Last week, we tied.  The NBC Competition Committee decided that I should have to copy and paste it all together again.  And so I’ll take the high road and accept the ruling.  In three days, after everyone applauds me for taking the high road, I’ll bitch about it on the radio.]

[UPDATE:  As it turns out, we didn’t tie.  Rosenthal won.  And I should have kept my damn mouth shut when I realized that he’d counted his victories incorrectly.]

Bills at Packers

Florio’s take:  In Week Two of the 2009 season, the Packers hosted an AFC team, and the AFC team stole a win.  In Win Two of the 2010 season, another AFC team comes to town.  But there’s a big difference between last year’s Bengals and this year’s Bills.  Even with Packers running back Ryan Grant done for the year, Green Bay has too much talent — and the Bills don’t have nearly enough.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 42, Bills 19.

Rosenthal’s take: This reminds me of the blowout specials Florio used to get to pick last year when we split the workload.  You could try to make a case for the Bills, but you’d be trying too hard.  Buffalo doesn’t have the receiver depth to test Green Bay’s secondary.  The Bills’ three-headed running game was oddly underused last week.  Their screens were predictable.  Holes closed on C.J. Spiller a lot faster than they did at Clemson or in the preseason.  Don’t expect daylight this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 27, Bills 10.

Dolphins at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The Vikings’ offense and the Dolphins’ defense cancel each other out.  So this one will come down to the ability of the Minnesota defense to bottle up the Miami offense.  Given that the Bills were able to keep the attack largely in check last week, the Vikings should have no problems shutting them down.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Dolphins 12.

Rosenthal’s take: Miami’s defense was impressive in Buffalo.  Mike Nolan did a lot of fun things with Karlos Dansby and Cameron Wake; they can get pressure on Brett Favre. Even short a few players, this is an improved linebacker group.  Favre also may not be ready to take advantage of a Dolphins secondary that features Benny Sappy a little too prominently.  There’s an old axiom that you shouldn’t pick a team to cover the spread unless you think they can win. 5.5 points feels like too much.  So let’s just go all the way and take the Dolphins in an upset special.  (I changed this pick at the last minute, which is the kiss of death.)  [Editor’s note:  Hey, Rosey, if you’re gonna pick the upset, just pick the upset and be done with it.]

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 23, Vikings 21.

Chiefs at Browns

Florio’s take:  With former Patriot Scott Pioli running the Chiefs and former Patriot turncoat Eric Mangini coaching the Browns, this one carries a strong undercurrent of hostility.  Then there’s the fact that Browns running back Jerome Harrison shredded the K.C. defense for 286 yards last December.  Look for the new-look Chiefs to bring their new attitude to Ohio, and to send the Browns to a loss in the second of two games that most expected Cleveland to win.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Browns 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Remember all the positive energy in Kansas City on Monday night?  Imagine that, but the complete opposite happening in Cleveland if the Browns fall behind Sunday.  Jake Delhomme’s injury doesn’t hurt the Browns, though.  Seneca Wallace is different, and could force the Browns coaches to get creative with a roster that begs for creativity to make up for a lack of talent.  Eric Mangini can’t afford to lose the Belichick B-team Bowl after last week’s collapse in Tampa.  Romeo Crennel knows just how to lose in Cleveland.

Rosenthal’s pick: Browns 17, Chiefs 14.

Bears at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  The Bears lucked into a win at home and the Cowboys squandered a victory of their own on the road.  This week, the Cowboys head back to Dallas, 25 years after the Bears authored a 44-0 beatdown of the ‘Boys.  The Bears haven’t won in Big D since the year after that game — and their streak of futility will continue.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Bears 10.

Rosenthal’s take: No clue what to make of the Bears after last week.   Jay Cutler moved the ball very well, Matt Forte is revived, and the defense stuffed Detroit all day.  Yet they still needed a lucky call to save them from an opening loss at home.  The Cowboys are easier to read.  Their offensive line has problems and they know it.  The defense is great.  Will the return of two injured, older starting lineman be enough to turn things around?  It’s enough this week.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

Florio’s take:  The Cards barely beat a still-bad Rams team last week, and the Falcons gave fits to the Steelers on their home field.  Atlanta realizes that the window will close quickly if they can’t keep pace with the Saints.  Besides, Falcons are far more menacing birds.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Cardinals 20.

Rosenthal’s take: Arizona fans complaining about style points last week need to get a grip.  Kurt Warner has left the building.  This is a different Cardinals team, and they are going to have to win creatively while Derek Anderson figures things out. The guy led two impressive fourth-quarter drives last week and that will do for now.  Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has struggled to move the ball since the preseason.  I think Atlanta’s improved defense carries the day here.  Both these teams deserve to be 1-1. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 19, Cardinals 14. 

Buccaneers at Panthers

Florio’s take:  Since 2003, the Panthers have handled the Bucs on 11 of 14 occasions.  Though Tampa pulled off a minor surprise on Sunday against the Browns, the Panthers can be expected to take care of business on their own turf.  If they can’t, Carolina could be 0-5 at the bye.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Buccaneers 14.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bucs have a golden opportunity to go 2-0, even if Panthers starting quarterback Matt Moore plays as expected despite a concussion last week.  Raheem Morris has the Bucs defense looking improved, like they did at the end of last year.  These two similar teams fly well below the NFL radar and got against current league norms.  They want to win with running, defense, and not screwing things up too badly passing the ball.  John Fox has more practice.  And better running backs. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Panthers 20, Bucs 13.

Eagles at Lions

Florio’s take:  With Mike Vick making his first start since 2006, the question becomes whether he can play like he did against the Packers, who weren’t prepared to face him, when facing a Lions team that knows Vick will be the guy.  Lions coach Jim Schwartz never has had to defend Vick; when Schwartz served as defensive coordinator for the Titans, Schwartz’s team was the last one to play the Falcons before Vick returned from a broken leg.  Look for Schwartz to try to keep Vick in the pocket in the hopes that he’ll be forced to throw — and that he’ll force a few mistakes.  And then Kevin Kolb will get “healthy” quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Eagles 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The battle of the tortured fan bases.  The rest of the world learned about what it meant to be a Lions fan this week.  Week One, full of hope, they lost their young franchise quarterback and a game in the most painful way possible.  The Lions have a vertical passing attack with the weakest-armed quarterback in the league in Shaun Hill.  Eagles fans have it pretty good, but they like drama.  They talked up Kevin Kolb all offseason, then gave up on him after 30 minutes.  It’s hard to blame them after the way Michael Vick played last week.  Vick will put it to the Lions just to make this whole situation more ridiculous.

Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 27, Lions 16.

Ravens at Bengals

Florio’s take:  The Bengals somehow swept the Ravens last year.  It won’t be happening again in 2010.  Baltimore looks as good as they ever have looked, and the Bengals looked nothing like they looked a year ago.  Look for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis to continue to drop the hammer on anyone who looks in his direction.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 23, Bengals 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bengals defense said they were confused early against the Patriots.  So were guys like Tedy Bruschi that picked Cincinnati to go to the Super Bowl.  At least the Bengals passing attack showed signs of life after the early disaster.  It may have been garbage time, but Carson Palmer couldn’t put up big stats any time last year.  Unlike the Jets, Cincinnati has the weapons to take advantage of Baltimore’s secondary.

Rosenthal’s pick: Bengals 27, Ravens 23.

Steelers at Titans

Florio’s take:  Last year, these two teams kicked off a season that many assumed would end in a playoff rematch.  Neither qualified for the postseason.  This year, both look like they’re on their way to another trip to January.  It all comes down to the Steelers defense against the Titans offense, and the Steelers defense is simply too tough.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Titans 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans were my pick to win the AFC South in the PFT Season Preview, so I’m basically going to take them at home unless they are facing the ’85 Bears.  The Steelers defense isn’t at that level, but it could wind up being the best in 2010.  Pittsburgh can neutralize Chris Johnson — they held him to 57 yards in last year’s opener.  So it will come down Vince Young versus Dennis Dixon and Young should be up for the challenge. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 14, Steelers 10.

Seahawks at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Former Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who was essentially run off when Josh McDaniels became the head coach, returns to town with a team that unexpectedly won in Week One by 25 points.  But it’s one thing to put a pasting on the 49ers at home in the season opener, it’s quite another to do it in Denver.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: These teams that are a total mystery, especially the Seahawks.  Can Seattle play so inspired without the 12th man?  What is this team good at precisely?  It looks like Pete Carroll is going to make this defense better and more interesting.  The offense has work to do.  In Denver, I know what I’m getting from Kyle Orton and his band of merry secondary receivers.  The Broncos can beat suspect NFC West teams at home.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 28, Seahawks 21.

Rams at Raiders

Florio’s take:  The Rams looked better than expected in Week One; the Raiders looked far worse.  But Oakland is at home and the Rams are still learning how to win.  Though neither team will be embarrassed, look for the Raiders to take care of business in the Black Hole.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 17, Rams 10.

Rosenthal’s take: The optimism stops here for one of these teams. The Raiders wouldn’t be able to sell progress after a blowout loss on the road and a home loss to the Rams.  Sam Bradford has given the Rams hope for the future, but the present looks awfully bleak if they go 0-2 with a soft opening schedule.  Two Raiders, including Jason Campbell, alluded to being overconfident heading into the Titans game.  You know, because of their draft grades.  Losing 11 or more games for seven years hasn’t humbled this franchise.  Maybe losing to the Rams will. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 21, Raiders 17.

Texans at Redskins

Florio’s take:  The reunion of the Shanahans and Gary Kubiak adds intrigue to a game that suddenly has become one of the best of the weekend give the teams’ performances in Week One.  We’ll quickly find out whether Houston tailback Arian Foster rolled up all those yards because he played against a bad run defense or because the Texans have become the ultimate “pick your poison” pass/run attack.  And we’ll find out whether the Redskins’ offense can score a touchdown or two without having it handed to them.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Redskins 24.

Rosenthal’s take: Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak are road favorites coming off a huge win. This is exactly the game they usually trip over, which worries me. Also worrisome:  Every aspect of the Redskins offense except their tackle play.  (How odd is that?)  Washington just doesn’t have enough firepower to hang with Houston, who should give Arian Foster a break and only rush him 25 times this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Texans 24, Redskins 17.

Patriots at Jets

Florio’s take:  During an offseason of incessant Jets chirping, the Patriots have remained largely silent.  Apart from Tom Brady’s acknowledgement that he hates the Jets, the Pats have avoided the trash talk.  Instead, the Patriots have saved it for the field, and the Jets may have a hard time saving themselves as the Pats make the only kind of statement that truly matters in football.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Jets 13.

Rosenthal’s take: What goes up in the NFL usually comes down. And vice versa.  An overconfident team loses one week, gets ripped, and plays hungry the next time out.  Last year, Rex Ryan called the Jets’ Week Two game against the Patriots the team’s Super Bowl.  This one is far more important.  The Jets know they can’t go 0-2 at home to start the year. The Jets defense still looks great. The offense can find a way on the ground.  Don’t crown the Patriots yet; this will be a season-long battle.



Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Patriots 16.

Jaguars at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Most expected one of these teams to be 1-0 and the other to be 0-1; few expected that the Jaguars would be undefeated and that the Chargers would be winless.  Though it may feel like a home game for the Jaguars since the stadium will be partially empty (rim shot!), the Chargers have the horses to get back to 1-1 against a Jaguars team that overachieved against the Broncos.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Jaguars 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The Chargers talked all offseason about avoiding yet another slow start to the year, and then slogged through a loss in the Kansas City rain.  Weather should be more conducive to vertical passing in San Diego this week. I don’t trust either secondary or either pass rush, even if Aaron Kampman looks like a fine pickup.  I’ll take Philip Rivers in a shootout over David Garrard every time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chargers 34, Jaguars 26.
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Giants at Colts

Florio’s take:  Peyton Manning has started 0-1 only three times in his 13-year career.  Only once, as a rookie in 1998, has Peyton Manning begun a season at 0-2.  This time around, Peyton takes an 0-1 mark into his second career game against his kid brother.  And more importantly than not going 0-2 to Peyton will be avoiding losing to Eli.  Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 31, Giants 19.

Rosenthal’s take: Both brothers have grown up a lot since the last Manning Bowl.  Peyton won a Super Bowl and did the United Way spot on Saturday Night Live.  Eli won a Super Bowl, got significantly better after the title, and adjusted his Southern fraternity mop top.  That makes this a fair fight, especially if the Giants pass rush has truly reawakened.  Fair, but not equal.  Peyton is still the one with MVPs and Peyton doesn’t start the year 0-2.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 34, Giants 30.

Saints at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Rarely if ever has a team with high expectations imploded as quickly as the 49ers.  They open their home schedule with a visit from the Saints, who will have had the longest possible non-bye-week time to prepare for the game, playing on a Thursday and next on the following Monday, 11 days later.  After the game, Niners coach Mike Singletary will be thanking Sean Payton in the same way Singletary thanked Pete Carroll.  

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, 49ers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Weirdly dangerous game for the Saints against an ornery 49ers team.  New Orleans fans don’t like that I questioned their run defense this week, but one game doesn’t erase all of last season and a shaky linebacker group.  Luckily, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn’t have to get too creative to stop Alex Smith and the 49ers passing attack.  Load up the box, and dare Smith to beat you.  The Saints are in Payton/Brees version 5.0.  The essentially can do anything they choose with a veteran group of receivers.  The 49ers can’t get the play calls in on time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 27, 49ers 21.

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Darren McFadden says elbow injury came from slipping on wet cement

Darren McFadden AP

Turns out Darren McFadden didn’t injure his elbow diving for a dropped phone after all.

According to Pete Perkins in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, McFadden said the injury actually came from slipping on wet cement next to a swimming pool.

“I just slipped down and landed on my elbow,” McFadden said. “My phone was in my hand, and so people kind of put that story out.”

It came as a surprise when McFadden suddenly had to have elbow surgery prior to the team’s veteran mini-camp earlier this month. The Cowboys initially said McFadden suffered the injury while trying to catch his cell phone and keep it from hitting the ground.

McFadden said he has a few more weeks in his arm brace but feels great otherwise. He had 1,089 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games with Dallas last season.

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Gore, others reflect on Zurlon Tipton’s death

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 28:  Zurlon Tipton #37 of the Indianapolis Colts carries the ball during the second half of a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 28, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

The death of ex-Colts running back Zurlon Tipton hit Frank Gore hard.

Teammates for much of last season, Gore and Tipton spent plenty of time together in the running back meeting room and in practices.

“This really messed me up,” Colts running back Frank Gore told the Indy Star. “He was a good dude. He really wanted football to work out. He was always great with the playbook but most of all, he was a great person. He loved to have fun. He was always loud and acting crazy in the locker room. That’s just who he was.”

The Colts retweeted a series of tweets on Tipton from current Colts players on the team’s official Twitter account.

Tipton played in 16 games for the Colts over the last two seasons. He was killed Tuesday when a gun he was carrying in a duffel bag accidentally discharged and Tipton was hit. He died after being transported to a Detroit hospital.

“Rest in peace, Zurlon,” Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the Tipton family.”

Tipton was a four-year contributor at Central Michigan and had 19 rushing touchdowns in 2012, his junior season.

“This is shocking and tragic news, and our condolences go out to Zurlon’s family and friends,” a statement from the Central Michigan athletic department said. “We knew Zurlon as a good guy, a captain and a student who grew as a person and a player on his way to getting his degree at CMU. What he did on the field in his career established him as one of the top running backs in CMU history.”

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Seahawks, Baldwin agree on four-year extension

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17:  Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks and wide receiver Doug Baldwin have agreed to a four-year contract extension, per multiple reports.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the new deal is worth “north of $11 million per year,” and Mike Garafolo of FS1 reported that it averages $11.5 million per season.

Baldwin had been set to make $4 million in 2016, the final year of the contract he was playing under prior to the extension. Baldwin, 27, has been a key part of the Seahawks offense since making the team as an undrafted rookie in 2011.

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said earlier this month that team intended to get Baldwin signed “for a good while” and that extending him was “a big deal.”

Baldwin’s 78 catches, 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015 were all career highs.

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Cowboys could see Ezekiel Elliott get 300 carries

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott during the team's rookie camp at Happy Valley in Irving, Texas, on Saturday, May 7, 2016. (Brandon Wade/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS) Getty Images

The Cowboys plan to make rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott a workhorse.

That’s the word from David Helman of DallasCowboys.com, who writes that Elliott will have somewhere in the range of 280 to 300 carries, or around 18 a game, in 2016.

That would suggest that the Cowboys plan to use Elliott about as much as any NFL team uses any running back. Last year Adrian Peterson led the NFL with 327 carries, while Doug Martin was second with 288 carries. If Elliott really carries the ball 18 times a game, he could compete for the league lead in carries.

Of course, that’s nothing compared to the way Cowboys coach Jason Garrett used running back DeMarco Murray in 2014, when Murray had 392 carries, the most for anyone in any season in the NFL in the last 10 years. Garrett has proven he won’t hesitate to give a running back a heavy workload.

Elliott won’t have that heavy a workload. But he’s going to get the ball a lot this year.

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Seahawks rookie QB facing one assault charge from bowl game incident

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 29:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs carries the ball against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 29, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks rookie quarterback Trevone Boykin faces one count of misdemeanor assault for his role in a Dec. 31 fight in San Antonio that resulted in Boykin being sent home before his final college game, TMZ reported Tuesday.

Boykin was initially charged with a felony count of assualting a public servant, public intoxication and resisting arrest. Court documents say Boykin struck an officer trying to take him into custody after he was removed by staff members from a bar. He didn’t play in the Alamo Bowl for TCU after the charges.

The report said Boykin faces up to a year in a jail on the assault charge he’s facing and is due to be arraigned in August.

Boykin signed with the Seahawks after the draft. The Seahawks went through the spring with only Boykin and Jake Heaps in their quarterback room behind Tarvaris Jackson, and with Jackson still unsigned and now facing gun charges after an incident last weekend, Boykin could end up being the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

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Cordarrelle Patterson: Sometimes I didn’t work hard enough

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 03:  Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Minnesota Vikings fumbles the football as he returns a kick during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Vikings didn’t pick up their fifth-year option on wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson’s contract this offseason, leaving the 2013 first-round pick on track for free agency after the season.

If Patterson is going to generate a robust market for his services, he’ll need to be more than the kick return specialist he was in 2015. Patterson returned two kicks for touchdowns, but caught just two passes while playing 64 snaps on offense. One way that Patterson can improve his chances of seeing the field as a wideout is by boosting his work ethic. It’s an area that Patterson admits has been lacking at times.

“Sometimes you can be here and you feel like you’ve got to be on the team,” Patterson said, via the Pioneer Press. “You feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m a first-round pick, I’m on the team.’ Things like that, sometimes they make you not work hard, they make you don’t want to do things, make you be lazy.”

Patterson’s work this offseason drew notice from coach Mike Zimmer for being short on the mental errors that have plagued him in the past, although the addition of Laquon Treadwell in the first round leaves little room at the top of the depth chart. Patterson says he feels thing “will work out well” for him if he shows the coaches that he can “do what I’m supposed to.” Anything less and there won’t be much offensive film for Patterson to show suitors on the open market next year.

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Plain language of PED policy cuts against NFL’s attempt to interview players

al_jazeera_america Getty Images

With the NFL and the NFL Players Association squaring off over whether and to what extent five players implicated by an Al Jazeera documentary featuring since-recanted allegations of PED use, it makes sense to retreat to square one and determine when and how an investigation regarding PED use based on media reports can even happen.

Arguably, it can’t happen at all, in the absence of “credible evidence” that would justify discipline of Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, and/or James Harrison. (Peyton Manning was implicated, but he has retired and is apparently not subject to discipline.)

Most PED violations occur when a player submits a urine sample that reveals a banned substance. Under the PED policy, discipline also may be imposed for (as the title of Section 5 of the policy states) “violations of law and other documented evidence-based violations.”

With no alleged violation of the law happening in the case of the players implicated by the Al Jazeera report, the question becomes whether the Al Jazeera report and any ensuing investigation by the league permits discipline based on “other documented evidence-based violations.”

Under the policy, that clause specifically is triggered when players “are found through sufficient credible documented evidence (see footnote 4) to have used, possessed or distributed performance-enhancing substances.” At footnote 4, the policy defines “credible documented evidence” as “criminal convictions or plea arrangements; admissions, declarations, affidavits, authenticated witness statements, corroborated law enforcement reports or testimony in legal proceedings; authenticated banking, telephone, medical or pharmacy records; or credible information obtained from Players who provide assistance pursuant to Section 10 of the Policy.”

Footnote 4 at no point includes “media reports” or anything remotely close to it, making the Al Jazeera report an insufficient basis for imposing discipline. At most, it can be the starting point for an investigation.

But what is the ending point? According to the policy, a violation can be based only on “criminal convictions or plea arrangements; admissions, declarations, affidavits, authenticated witness statements, corroborated law enforcement reports or testimony in legal proceedings; authenticated banking, telephone, medical or pharmacy records; or credible information obtained from Players who provide assistance pursuant to Section 10 of the Policy.”

Setting aside for now the question of what that laundry list of potential pieces of evidence does and doesn’t include, the structure of the policy indicates that the league must determine that a violation has occurred based on “credible evidence,” impose discipline, and allow the appeal process to unfold.

As crafted, the policy doesn’t contemplate a “probable cause”-type determination of a potential violation that then justifies interrogating players under a proverbial or actual hot light. Instead, the policy requires the league to first find “credible evidence” of a violation, impose discipline for the violation, share the “credible evidence” with the players, and then hear from the players as part of the appeal process.

In other words, there’s no language in the policy requiring the players to provide any information before the NFL concludes based on the information it already has developed that a violation occurred.

The league is blurring the lines in this case, possibly for fear of creating the impression that it regards the Al Jazeera report to be “credible evidence” without having a chance to directly assess the credibility of the players who were implicated. Still, the policy as negotiated by the NFL and the NFLPA requires the league to make an assessment based on “credible evidence,” impose discipline, and then allow the players to defend themselves against the allegedly “credible evidence.”

If the NFL is sufficiently concerned that the players in this case would be able to successfully defend themselves in front of a neutral arbitrator, then maybe the “credible evidence” isn’t.

Critics of the NFLPA routinely blame the union for not doing enough at the bargaining table to, for example, compel the Commissioner to surrender final say over matters like the Personal Conduct Policy or threats to the integrity of the game. In this case, it’s fair to point out that the league signed off on a procedure that requires it to develop and identify “credible evidence” of a violation before the player must potentially implicate himself by answering questions at a hearing.

That seems to be the crux of the problem. Given the relevant language of the policy, the NFLPA’s best approach could be to say, “Impose discipline if you believe you have ‘credible evidence’ of a violation. Until that happens, the players have no obligation to do anything.”

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Johnny Manziel turns up in Mexico, taunts his dad

PALM SPRINGS, CA - APRIL 17:  Johnny Manziel attends REVOLVE Desert House on April 17, 2016  at  on April 17, 2016 in Palm Springs, California.  (Photo by Thaddaeus McAdams/FilmMagic) Getty Images

In case Johnny Manziel’s father is wondering if his tough love message last week got through, the answer seems to be a resounding “No.”

The former Browns quarterback just posted a photo on Instagram of himself at a resort in Mexico, wearing a Josh Gordon jersey and celebrating how good he thinks he has it.

The message includes the oh-so-rebellious hashtag #hiDad, which doesn’t suggest that the son was very receptive to his father calling him a “druggie” and saying he hoped he went to jail.

Of course, Manziel also made it clear Gordon wasn’t with him. Though the two are friends, Gordon’s probably relieved he pointed that out.

After all, Gordon’s trying to get reinstated, and apparently taking the steps needed to achieve that goal.

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Seahawks add another long snapper

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 8: Khairi Fortt #54 of the New Orleans Saints warms up prior to a pre-season game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on August 8, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks signed rookie long snapper Nolan Frese Tuesday and released linebacker Khairi Fortt.

Frese tried out for the Seahawks Monday and becomes the third long snapper the team has signed this offseason. Andrew East was signed and later released and is now with the Raiders, and now the signing of Frese means he’ll compete with Drew Ferris for the team’s long snapping job when training camp opens in late July.

The Seahawks released Clint Gresham earlier this offseason. Gresham had been the team’s long snapper for the last six seasons.

Ferris signed with the Seahawks in March. He was briefly with the Jets last season.

Fortt has bounced around the league the last two seasons. He had signed with the Seahawks last month.

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Former Colts RB Zurlon Tipton dead after accidental shooting

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 07: Running back Zurlon Tipton #37 of the Indianapolis Colts carries the ball against the New York Jets during a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office has announced that former Colts running back Zurlon Tipton died in Michigan on Tuesday after accidentally shooting himself at the age of 26.

FOX2 in Detroit reports, via Roseville police, that Tipton pulled into a car dealership on Tuesday morning and removed a duffel bag from his trunk. The bag had two guns inside of it and police say that one of them went off with the bullet striking Tipton in the stomach.

Tipton was reportedly speaking to people on the scene before being transported to the hospital. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

Tipton, who was arrested on a gun charge last December, played 16 games for the Colts over the last two years after making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan in 2014. Tipton was waived near the end of last season and was not on any NFL roster this offseason.

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Jaelen Strong not threatened by new arrivals at receiver

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 30:   Jaelen Strong #11 of the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 30, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Just as receiver Jaelen Strong, a third-round pick in 2015, was ready to emerge as the primary complement to star Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans added two more in the draft — first-rounder Will Fuller and third-rounder Braxton Miller. So how did Strong react to the development?

“I felt like it was a great addition,” Strong told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “I feel like we’re going have some fun out there this year and I’m very excited for Braxton and Will. Two young guys ready to come to work every day. Every day they’re excited, they ask questions and that’s the stuff we need.”

How do you keep everyone happy when there’s that many talented receivers and only one football?

“Well, we all just want to win,” Strong said. “That’s all there is to it. We stay on top of each other. When the opportunities come you have to make the best of your opportunities. With those guys around us, around everybody and the teammates that we got, Brock [Osweiler] and Coach [Bill] O’Brien it’s all business, all fun. We’re just ready to go out there and do whatever we can to help our team win.”

Having four quality wideouts will help the team win plenty of games this year, assuming Osweiler and O’Brien can figure out hot to get the ball into their hands as often as possible.

The full interview with Jaelen Strong appears below. Or you can get the podcast for the full show at iTunes or audioBoom

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EA to pay Jim Brown $600K for unauthorized use of his likeness in Madden game

Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 1 Getty Images

The long legal battle between Hall of Famer Jim Brown and video game maker Electronic Arts over the use of Brown’s likeness in an edition of Madden NFL has come to an end.

Brown’s law firm Hagens Berman announced that their client has accepted $600,000 from the company to settle Brown’s claim that his likeness was used without his authorization. Brown claimed EA approached him about using his likeness as part of the roster of old Browns teams in the game and then used an avatar with the height, weight, skin color, experience, team, position and ability level after Brown, who originally filed suit in 2008, refused their request.

“I took a stand for all athletes and laid a framework for future plaintiffs with my great legal team,” Brown said in a statement. “Hopefully, this is a step forward in getting companies like Electronic Arts to recognize the value that athletes have in selling their products.”

Brown’s attorney Robert Carey said companies like EA “should think twice before it turns players’ hard-won identities and achievements into merchandise without permission or compensation.” EA had argued that the use of the likeness was “incidental,” which did not sway a Los Angeles court to grant their motion to dismiss the case in 2015.

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Eugene Monroe: I don’t feel I have to jump on first opportunities that come up

Baltimore Ravens v Chicago Bears Getty Images

It’s been a couple of weeks since tackle Eugene Monroe was released by the Ravens and it doesn’t sound like an announcement of his next team is imminent.

Monroe had conversations with the Giants right after being dispatched by Baltimore that were reportedly centered around Monroe making the move to right tackle after playing on the left side throughout his time with the Jaguars and Ravens. During an appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn, Monroe said he’s “very respectful” of the early interest but that he doesn’t feel pressure to sign with a team right away.

“After the Ravens released me, some interest sprung up,” Monroe said. “We’ve been in discussions with a few teams, but this is very new. I’ve been released and it’s been just a short amount of time since that happened. I’m weighing my options right now. I don’t feel like I have to jump on one of the first opportunities that come up.”

Monroe didn’t say anything concrete about whether he’s willing to move to the right side when asked on Tuesday, saying only that “time will tell” what’s best for him. He did say that he hoped that his outspoken support for the NFL to OK the use of medical marijuana would not impact his playing future. Giants coach Ben McAdoo said that the team isn’t put off by that advocacy, which may leave his willingness to take on a new position as the biggest thing standing in the way of a new job.

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Rex Ryan: We take comfort knowing Buddy lives through us

RexandBuddy Getty Images

Hours after the death of Buddy Ryan, Bills coach Rex Ryan has released a statement remembering his legendary father.

“On behalf of the entire Ryan family, we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their sympathies, prayers and warm thoughts with the passing of my dad,” Rex Ryan said. “He was many things to many people–outstanding coach, mentor, fierce competitor, father figure, faithful friend and the list goes on. But to me and my brothers Rob and Jim, he was so much more. He was everything you want in a dad–tough when he had to be, compassionate when you didn’t necessarily expect it, and a loving teacher and confidant who cherished his family. He truly was our hero.”

Rex, who hired his twin brother Rob as an assistant this year, said he takes pride in following in his father’s footsteps in the coaching profession.

“For Rob and me, we’ve had the great fortune of sharing the coaching profession that he was so proud of and cherished so much. There is no way we can possibly begin to measure how much football we have learned from him over the years and we are forever thankful to him for instilling within us his unwavering love for the game of football,” Rex said. “While today is a tough day for all of us in the Ryan family, we are consoled in knowing how much dad was loved by so many and the love he gave back in return. Though we will miss him dearly, we take comfort in knowing that his memory will live on through all of us.”

Rex and Rob got their first NFL job coaching on Buddy’s staff in his final stint as a head coach, with the Cardinals in 1994 and 1995.

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Danny Amendola feeling “really good” after surgeries

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots reacts after a play in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s a quiet time around the league right now, which leaves players coming off of injuries with little to do other than make sure that they’re feeling well when it comes time for training camp.

Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is in that group. Amendola had knee and ankle surgeries earlier this offseason that kept him off the field during OTAs and minicamp, but he didn’t sound like he expects the procedures to have much impact on the regular season during an appearance on ESPN Tuesday.

“I feel really good,” Amendola said. “I had a couple minor procedures done after the season. Everybody knows how long the season can be. I wanted to go into next season feeling as fresh and ready as I can.”

Amendola will likely be eased back into work once camp gets underway and he’ll join Chris Hogan, Nate Washington, Keshawn Martin, rookie Marvin Mitchell and others in a competition for snaps along with Julian Edelman at receiver. Taking a pay cut for the second straight year probably doesn’t hurt a healthy Amendola’s chances of emerging with a similar role to the one he played while catching 65 passes for 648 yards.

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